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Bayer 04 Leverkusen: The Workers' Dilemma

At Bayer 04 Leverkusen, features of the twisted final phase of the old season have been revealed again at the start of the season. Against FC Bayern (15.30 clock) should change that.
 The old problem in this club is: How to give the pleasantly supplied Bayer professionals performance pressure?

       By Philipp Selldorf, Leverkusen



    Before he stops by with his team at Bayern Munich on Saturday afternoon, Heiko Herrlich does not have to complain about a lack of worldwide support. The coach of Bayer Leverkusen receives encouragement from all directions: In his own camp, sporting director Rudi Völler sat down for him, from the opposing camp dedicated to him Bayern coach Niko Kovac solidary greetings, and representative of the rest of the scene is him Wolfsburg colleague Bruno Labbadia jumped in. All advocates complained based on Herrlich's situation, the moral decline in football: Völler scolded about a "hysteria that is unbearable," Kovac revolted about a "thing impossible", Labbadia called it "unspeakable, which in the public again happened to one or the other coach ".


    But what happened? And did Heiko Herrlich even ask for help? This can be answered succinctly and succinctly. A: Nothing. B: No. There were after the defeats in Mönchengladbach and home against Wolfsburg a few press articles that doubted the progress of Herrlich's activity at the Rhenish industrial club. However, there can be no talk of a public trial. Gorgeous was the coverage "surprising", but she welcomed in an act of selflessness: "I'm glad that I got it and not the players."

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Perhaps the 46-year-old should still think about his position in Leverkusen, because the men who unasked on his side, may have reacted a little over-sensitive, but they also unite about 100 years practiced Bundesliga experience. Your sensors are sensitive.


    In fact, the murmur about Herrlich's coaching work does not just refer to the isolated cause of the failed start to the season; rather, the two defeats are understood as follow-up stories. Bayer 04 finished fifth in May, seven places better than last year. However, it was a questionable progress, according to the season course found some club officials ranked fifth at least one place too bad. In the final quarter of the season, Herrlich's players barely offered mediocrity, it looked as if they had thrown away their safe Champions League future, the move into the Europa League was a formidable consolation. Features of this messy closing phase are now repeated. The fact that Rudi Völler recognized this is proved by the untimely vehemence of his protest.


    The longtime sports director is basically not a friend of coach changes: First, he incurs inconvenience, which is why holding on to the coach is the most convenient solution. Second, he does not want to be driven by the media and other outside influences. In the case of Herrlich's predecessor Roger Schmidt, this approach had two opposing effects: On the one hand, Völler ensured that Schmidt could remain in the job long enough despite threatening phases to lead Bayer twice in the Champions League. On the other hand, he allowed Schmidt in the third year so long until his government – some players also said: regime – ended in disaster.


    Gorgeous calls "absolute lust"


    Herrlich was able to cure the consequences of Schmidt's radicalism for better or worse with his moral address and his connecting nature; he restored the lost collective. Now his job is to improve the team by making each player better. Especially at Bayer, he has plenty of opportunity, the squad offers plenty of room for development: In view, among others, current and former DFB players such as Julian Brandt, Jonathan Tah, Kevin Volland and Kai Havertz and foreign stars with investment potential as Wendell, Paulinho, Panagiotis Retsos and Leon Bailey.


    Herrlich has noticed that his team is highly prized ("we were already number two in Germany before the season has begun"), and he also knows that at Bayer 04 is not only the protection man Völler. Thus, the very influential chairman of the Supervisory Board of Partners, Werner Wenning, 71, Herrlich declared by name to the responsible, as he recently raised the qualification for the Champions League to the duty. Wenning, former CEO of Bayer AG, is tired of the fact that the football-playing subsidiary is repeatedly given the image of the efficient, but frugal gray kitchen mouse. He has advised sports leaders Völler and Jonas Boldt to demand performance and should be happy to make this public. The old problem in this association, which is not overwhelmingly burdened by public emotions: How do you convey the pleasantly supplied Bayer professionals' performance pressure?


    The colleagues would have to learn that football is "primarily hard work", captain Lars Bender called a few days ago the carelessly inclined teammates. The big fighter Bender is at Bayer although in the twin version (even brother Sven will play in Munich), but Herrlich sounded on Friday, as if he would like at least quadruplets. What he needs to work the most with his team? "Mentality, will and absolute lust to win games and get the best out of it." An order that made many of his predecessors despair.

Niko Kovac trusts his gut feeling
                        The new Bayern coach explains before the match against Leverkusen how he gets to his decisions. The exciting thing is how Kovac will deal with James, Sanches and Gnabry in the next games.
                    By Sebastian Fischer


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